The pressures exerted on debt-ridden governments to reduce the energy costs of industrial consumers and address the accumulating electricity market deficits are resulting in the weakening of renewable energies support policies across Europe. This however may prove not to be the case with Portugal.
In response to demands by the IMF-EC-ECB Troika supervising the country’s fiscal adjustment programme, the Portuguese Government introduced a special contribution tax on the electricity sector, which targets fossil fuels and large hydro. According to Minister for Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy, Jorge Moreira da Silva and Secretary of State for Energy Artur Trindade, “Portugal largely depends on imported energy (80%), the majority of which is oil. For this reason, we must become more efficient and invest in renewable energy”. The Government’s proposal does not include renewables in the special tax measures.
Most crisis-stricken states have decided to blame renewables for the rising energy bills: Greece recently introduced a 25%-42% special retroactive levy on revenues for photovoltaic stations and 10% for the rest of renewables and CHP stations. Along the same path, the Czech Government has announced its plan to stop all financial support to renewables by January 2014, imposing at the same time a 10% tax on existing solar plants, whereas Italy and Spain have already decimated their support systems. In all cases, the cost is rolled down to either renewable electricity producers or to consumers’ bills (through additional fees).
In the meantime, the European Commission recently sent a reasoned opinion to Italy and Spain, calling on the two member states to take action in order to achieve their 2020 targets for increased share of renewables.